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Bayern edge PSG to progress into Champions League quarters

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BERLIN, March 8 (Xinhua) — Bayern Munich advanced into the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals after seeing off Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 (3-0 on aggregate) thanks to second-half goals from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Serge Gnabry in the second leg of the last 16 on Wednesday.

Paris Saint-Germain made a bright start as Kylian Mbappe raced down the left wing before testing Bayern goalkeeper Yann Sommer with an attempt from a tight angle following a fast break with only two minutes played.

Both teams looked afraid to concede and focused on defence, with goalscoring opportunities remaining at premium.

Bayern created their first clear-cut chance with 15 minutes gone when Leon Goretzka’s low shot from distance called PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma into action.

The visitors had their biggest opportunity to restore parity in the 38th minute but Matthijs de Ligt blocked Vitinha’s shot after Sommer was dispossessed in his own box.

The Bavarians came out with their guns blazing after the restart and thought they had broken the deadlock, but Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s 54th-minute strike was flagged offside.

The Bayern striker remained in the thick of things and got his name on the scoreboard moments later after Marco Verratti lost the ball to Goretzka, whose square pass allowed Choupo-Moting to break the deadlock.

The visitors responded well and had a promising chance three minutes later, as Sommer’s diving save neutralized Sergio Ramos’ dangerous header.

PSG needed two goals to progress and increased the pressure, whereas Bayern had plenty of room to counterattack. Leroy Sane wasted a golden chance to put the result beyond doubt in the 70th minute as his final pass wasn’t strong enough to give Kingsley Coman a free shot on target.

The visitors remained dangerous from dead-ball situations, as Ramos tested Sommer again following a corner from Lionel Messi in the 82nd minute.

Bayern eventually killed the game moments later as Serge Gnabry finished off a counterattack via Joao Cancelo to make it 2-0.

The record German champions kept going and even had another effort from Sadio Mane chalked off in the closing stages.

“We made some mistakes in the first half but after the restart, we defended well and were patient. I think we were the better team in the second half and clinched a deserved victory,” said Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Spain’s teenage winger Yamal mixing Euros with homework

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MADRID, June 11 (Xinhua) — Spain’s teenage international winger Lamine Yamal says he still finds it hard to believe that he is a key part of the country’s squad for the forthcoming UEFA Euro 2024.

The 16-year-old has made himself a key player for FC Barcelona this season and has also become a fixture in Spain’s squad under coach Luis de la Fuente with seven appearances.

“It seems like no time ago that I was watching the Euros on the sofa with my mother,” he said in an interview with Spanish sports paper, Diario AS on Tuesday.

Spain finished top of their qualifying group, after suffering an early setback in Scotland, before turning in some impressive displays, including a 7-1 win in Georgia and a 6-0 thrashing of Cyprus.

They rounded off their preparation with a 5-0 win at home to Andorra and a 5-1 victory over Northern Ireland, and will kick off in Germany against Croatia on Saturday with their morale sky-high.

“We haven’t come here for a stroll, but to try and to make history. I hope we can go a long way in the European Championships,” commented Yamal, although he admitted that would mean missing out on the Olympic Games, which begin soon after the Euros finish.

“I’ll watch the Games on the TV,” he said.

Being just 16 years old has its advantages, but also means extra work for the youngster, who has still to complete his studies.

“I have brought my homework, as I’m in the fourth years of Obligatory Secondary Education. I have classes online and I hope the teacher doesn’t mind,” he joked.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Ahead of Euro 2024: Germany’s second-row players stepping into limelight

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BERLIN, June 8 (Xinhua) — The German squad has been granted two days off as a final opportunity to rest ahead of their 2024 UEFA Euro opener against Scotland next Friday.

With mixed feelings, the team members departed for various destinations to meet family and friends after their narrow and laborious 2-1 victory in a friendly against Greece.

On Monday, head coach Julian Nagelsmann will regather the team at their tournament compound in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, to make final preparations. The squad hopes to play a vital role in the Euro on home ground.

As Europe’s most successful team, with three titles and two second-place finishes, Germany feels the burden of expectations. Spain, also with three titles, follows closely behind.

Recent friendlies against Ukraine and Greece highlighted both defensive inconsistencies and a lack of efficiency up front. Manuel Neuer’s mistake, which allowed Greece to score, has become a major topic of discussion as Germany prepares for the Euro’s kick-off on Friday. Venues and cities are setting up various public viewing spots for the event.

Coach Nagelsmann is demanding patience, expressing full trust in his selected squad. He dismissed debates about a possible change of keepers, despite Neuer’s mistakes against Greece and Ukraine.

“We know about our gaps; we will solve them until the Scotland game,” Nagelsmann said, while 2024 Champions League winner Toni Kroos called for more determination.

Toni Kroos, a 2024 Champions League winner, called for more determination. The Real Madrid midfielder was convinced that “we will do well at the tournament, but we need to improve and develop greediness.”

Positives include the value of Germany’s second-row players, such as David Raum, Leroy Sane, Nico Schlotterbeck, Chris Fuhrich, and Pascal Gross. The Brighton midfielder not only scored the winning goal against Greece but also emphasized the importance of “our well-equipped bench.”

Nagelsmann’s strategy involves relying on a core of key players, including Neuer, Antonio Ruediger, Toni Kroos, and Ilkay Guendogan, while recognizing the contributions of the entire squad.

“It’s not only eleven that make a successful tournament, but we are also 26, and everyone is important. That is a good message, and we should keep an eye on that,” Gross added.

Like in the game against Ukraine, substitutes Deniz Undav and Niclas Fullkrug revitalized the German game. Gross described the recent matches as a confidence booster for the second row. “Not only I will follow every minute from the bench to be ready when I am needed. Everyone now is aware he can make a difference even when sitting on the bench at first,” Gross said.

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Chelsea and Mauricio Pochettino part ways after just one season

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LONDON, May 21 (Xinhua) — Chelsea have parted with coach Mauricio Pochettino and his coaching staff after just one season, the club announced on Tuesday.

Chelsea announced the news with a brief statement on their official website saying: “Chelsea FC can confirm that the club and Mauricio Pochettino have mutually agreed to part ways”, while Pochettino thanked the club for “the opportunity to be part of this football club’s history”, adding that Chelsea was now “well positioned to keep moving forward in the Premier League and Europe in the years to come.”

The former Tottenham, Southampton and Paris Saint Germain coach arrived at Stamford Bridge last May, after a disastrous campaign that saw the club sacked Thomas Tuchel in September 2022, before then showing his replacement, Graham Potter the door in April 2023 and appointing Frank Lampard as an interim coach until the end of the disastrous campaign which Chelsea finished 12th in the Premier League.

The club spent heavily over the summer, mainly on young players, while losing several veterans such as Cesar Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic.

An important turnover in playing staff and as young squad saw Chelsea struggle for performances and results for much of the season, although a strong finish to the campaign saw Chelsea win their last five matches and finish sixth in the Premier League to qualify for next season’s Europa League.

Pochettino also led Chelsea to the Carabao Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Liverpool, while they also lost the FA Cup semifinal 1-0 to Manchester City.

The south London club has now had seven coaches since Antonio Conte left the job in the summer of 2018.

Source(s): Xinhua

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